What a beaut! The Chaparral 243 VRX

Boatingmag.com gives the low down on Chaparral’s impressive 243 VRX Vortex Jet Boat.

Introducing Chaparral’s 243 VRX

Once upon a time there was a revolution in jet boats. Everybody was building at least one, and a lot of the power was supplied by Mercury. When Merc left the market, independent jet builders lost their source of power. Then, only motor-sports companies like Yamaha and Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) remained in the fray, and in it, they made plenty of hay — it was, and is again, the fastest growing category of boats in the marketplace. Then BRP stepped out, dismantling its Sea-Doo boat production to focus on performance watercraft.

Now the award-winning builder Chaparral roars onto the scene with a series of jet boats that are more than equal to the very finest prop-drive boats for which it is known. And, since BRP left the boat-building marketplace, it made its engines available to any builder — like Chaparral, who was quick to capitalise on the availability of these proven power plants.

243 VRX Vortex Jet Boat

The advantages of jet power

The advantages of jet power are many. There’s no expensive gear case to maintain, and with all the propulsion equipment above the keel there is less risk of damaging it by running aground. Jet impellers are enclosed in the hull and power nozzles are tucked safely under the swim platform, eliminating the drag created by outboard and sterndrive gearcases, and reducing strike damage potential. And for the shallow coastal waters where jet boats are already most popular, the advantages of shallow draft mean less to fear when approaching the sandbar or accessing home port at low tide or low lake levels.

All those operational advantages aside, up until recent models, jet boats had a personal watercraft-like feel to them that appealed to fewer boaters.

Yamaha’s 242 Limited S is the latest in a generation of jets that set aside the watercraft culture, offering solid construction and a feel when underway that’s similar to that of a prop-drive boat.

One of the top five luxury runabout builders

That was the target Chaparral had to aim at if it would be successful in this endeavour. Considered by most to be in the top five of luxury runabout builders, Chaparral’s designers knew they had to steer clear of a jet boat feel or they would alienate their owners. So they focused the formidable hull-building talent and skill long employed in the production of their prop-drive boats and added Sea-Doo’s turbocharged Rotax jet-pump engines.

Increased speed and reduced drag

Jets are famous for acceleration, and the twin 250 hp 1.5-liter Rotax engines powering the Chaparral 243 VRX we tested pushed us back in our seats, throttling onto plane in three seconds. Part of the credit goes to the horsepower and part goes to the unique advantage of straight-line thrust afforded by the jet-pump nozzles in perfect parallel alignment with the keel. Speed comes from high rpm that generate high horsepower. Reduced drag achieved by eliminating gear cases and props dragging through the water also contributes to speed and acceleration. Another benefit is the high-speed maneuverability we enjoyed while whipping equally agile hard-over turns from left to right without dumping any speed.

A sharp keel enhances tracking without robbing the jets of the highly maneuverable thrust for which they are known. Turbochargers kick on instantly to drive the boat up on plane in less than three seconds and accelerate to 30 mph so fast it’s hard to start and stop the stopwatch.

Speed control for water sports can be trickier in jets, but Chaparral answered that objection too. All the power as well as stereo and onboard systems are controllable through the option al Medallion colour LCD touch-screen display we became familiar with during our test or standard individual switches. These allow the selection of tow profiles for riders’ preferences for speed and acceleration. Once programmed, a single touch ensures a great tow no matter the rider.

The colour schemes speak of water sports too, bearing yellow, red, blue, grey, lime green and and aqua graphics already popular in direct and V-drive water-sports boats. There are six of these VRX Colour graphics packages available. They are standard, and the choice of colour is yours.

243 VRX Vortex Jet Boat-5

The cockpit layout capitalises on the low-profile jet power and provides an aft cockpit that’s much more expansive and open than what you would find aboard a sterndrive-powered sport boat of the same size. Seating is hand-designed, -built and -upholstered, avoiding the “molded seat” feel of some watercraft. A nonskid sole that drains to the bilge can be softened with snap-in carpet. Crisp lines to this rakish, aggressive design give it performance-boat appeal.

All this speaks well for the water-sport capabilities built in that include an easily foldable wakeboard arch, standard on VRX models, and massive real estate on the SeaDek-covered swim platform. Aft seats provide comfort at the cove.

Luxury interior

Inside, the cockpit embodies everything for which Chaparral’s luxury brand name is known. Families will embrace the generously sized enclosed head. Full wraparound seating makes the vessel a group entertainer. The helm companion bench’s seat back flips forward, creating a full-cockpit wraparound lounge. (The 243 is National Marine Manufacturers Association-rated for 12.) A walk-through transom makes access to the platform easy, and aft transom seats make a great spot to hang out to watch the kids, the sunset or both while at anchor.

243 VR Vortex Jet Boat-7

There’s very little that’s optional on this luxury performer — another reason the 243 VRX is a big hit.

Check out boatingmag.com’s original post here.

Mercury’s magical Enertia ECO prop

This is a blog review by Capt. Steve Lamp, host at @DreamcatcherCharters in Key West, Florida, of the all new Enertia ECO Prop from Mercury. The original post can be viewed here.


Mercury Enertia ECO prop specs

Mercury Enertia ECO prop specs

I am not a fan of gimmicks. When a snake oil salesman comes my way, I go the other. When I was presented this propeller, I was less than enthused. 10% fuel savings? Really? That’s what they told me. I actually took on this project to run it on my boats just to quietly expose the myth that I thought I was dealing with. My thought was, if this idea is so great, why are we just hearing about it?

Mercury Marine is without a single doubt the best of the best when it comes to props and propeller designs across the board for all marine outboard and stern drive applications. With over 20 different designs currently sold in their stable, one would think: another prop? In my career I have had the incredible opportunity to learn from names like the late Dennis Cavenaugh and Scott Reichow, and also to be a part in development of some of the props we all use today for fishing, boating, and hauling ass on the water.

So when Mercury presented this prop to me, I was like, “Okay, let’s test it. Maybe there is something there. But 10%, really? That’s a lot, and if it’s true, this thing will be on everyone’s boat”.

I had my doubts at first…

I ran this prop on was a Yellowfin 24 Bay Boat with a tower and Mercury 300 Verado Pro. When I cracked it out of the box I was thinking, “This thing is ginormous”. The diameter was HUGE at 16 inches. I was normally running a 15 inches and change diameter blade. I had doubts it would even fit under my cavitation plate and spin. The weight of the Enertia ECO prop was not what it should be for all the blade surface and the sheer size of this beast and what I was used to. It was pretty light. In fact, I was impressed with how light it was. This was an added benefit lowering the centrifugal mass that the Verado has to turn before even any water has moved. That’s a big help in hole shot and all round performance. But it’s SO big. The proof would be in the testing.

The characteristics of Enertia ECO prop are pretty cool.

Mercury Enertia ECO prop

Mercury Enertia ECO prop

Hole shot

I figured that the hole shot would suffer from the large diameter and monster blade surface. Nope, it came out of the hole nice and steady, super smooth and no ventilation. I will say though that when I put an additional person on board or carry more fuel that the prop does make the boat a little (very little) sluggish on the hole shot. Nothing terrible, but a little slower. This I combat with 2 inches of lift on the jack and wham back to the drag races. A note: The larger diameter creates a little bit of a low pressure at the tops of the blades pulling some surface air making an exhaust note chamber. Super cool as it makes the 300 Pro Verado sound like a mellow old school V-8 as it comes up on a plane – I love it.

Handling

I always think this should be a consideration when looking for the ‘all-in-wonder’ propeller. The handling and feel this prop provides in and around the dock is amazing. For single engine applications where it can count the most, the larger blade surface coupled with the larger diameter seems to have a more immediate effect on the maneuverability of the several boats I have tried this prop on.

Trim capacity

On my Yellowfin 24, the trim capability of the Enertia ECO prop is a HUGE consideration. It’s like having your own elevator on the bow of the boat. Hit the trim, and due to the larger diameter and blade surface, it carries the bow like the mail dropping my drag coefficient like a bad habit and increasing my speed without a throttle advance. Therefore improving efficiency.

Rough water handling

I truly love this propeller for rough water on my Yellowfin 24 powered by the Mercury 300 Verado Pro. Absolutely amazing. Different propellers respond in different ways across the spectrum when it comes to changing how the water hits the blades of the prop. On this boat the Rev 4 does a fine job staying hooked up through the rough seas and encountering ventilation. BUT when it gets truly sloppy and speed is not the fix to improve ride comfort, the Enertia ECO prop does the trick by being able to utilise the low end torque that is available in my Mercury Verado 300 Pro and go slow and still stay on a plane.

I am able to drop back to 19 mph and stay on top with the Eco Prop versus the 24 – 26 mph needed with the Rev 4. Now that’s HUGE. Due to the larger blade surface and increased diameter, this prop holds me up and allows me to slug my way home without beating my anglers to death.

The Enertia ECO prop – a magic prop?

In this industry I do whatever I can to avoid gimmicks (as I mentioned).

This prop is the real deal and will make many boaters happier.

I am not saying it’s faster in all the applications I have run it, but it certainly allows me to milk even more mileage out of my rigs per gallon of fuel burned. That alone is enough. But add all the other stuff – yup, magic.

I have added several more Enertia ECO props to my fleet and have had some profound results. By the end of this spring, every one of my boats will be running them.

Capt. Steven Lamp